Attorney General’s Model Rules of Procedure
The Oregon Administrative Procedures Act (APA) requires state agencies to adopt procedural rules for administrative rulemaking and conducting contested case proceedings. The APA also requires the Attorney General to adopt model rules that state agencies must use, although agencies may adopt additional rules governing administrative procedures. OAR 459-001-0005 adopted the Attorney General’s Model Rules of Procedure. In response to statutory changes and appellate court decisions, the Attorney General updated the Model Rules, effective January 31, 2012. These rule modifications are only to conform to the date of and therefore adopt the updated Model Rules.
To streamline operations and create greater efficiencies, PERS has been moving away from maintaining records in physical hard copy form, and has been directly imaging all documents received, rather than affixing a receipt stamp to the item and then imaging it. (Items received at the front desk are still receipt stamped.) As a consequence, receipt stamping and imaging are often one and the same.
The prior five business day window created delays and extra work for staff by extending the time period in which they must wait before they can complete work on member accounts, or requiring recalculations due to late purchases or other transactions. A three business day window reduces the number of recalculations that PERS will have to perform due to purchase submissions that come in after the purchase deadline but before the imaging window has ended and will allow PERS to process retirement applications in a more timely manner. PERS considers three business days sufficient to avoid the risk of any delay attributable to the document being routed to imaging.
Because of the third party handling and processing, there is still a need to maintain a window to account for any potential delays in processing by the third party. Delays are rare and would not extend beyond a few business days. Therefore, three business days would be more than sufficient to address this narrow concern.
Some members, however, have been disregarding the statutory deadlines and have been instead relying on the five business days window and treating it as a grace period to complete certain transactions. For example, rather than delivering an item in person at the front desk, where it will be receipt stamped, some members are sending the item in after the statutory deadline, based upon the understanding that it will be imaged, triggering the five business days window. This essentially allows the member an extra week beyond the statutory deadline.
For these reasons, staff proposed narrowing the window from five business days to three business days to provide greater administrative efficiency, consistency, and certainty, and allows PERS to administer its processes in line with the timelines prescribed in statute. This modification also decreases the risk of using the rule to circumvent statutory deadlines. The proposed rule modifications also clarify that items recorded on PERS’ daily cash receipts log and/or check log satisfy the receipt stamp affixation/display requirement for received items.
COLA and Supplementary Payments
The 2013 Oregon Legislative Assembly (Special Session) passed Senate Bill 861, which modified the COLA structure previously adopted in Senate Bill 822 (2013) for COLAs paid on or after July 1, 2014. Under Senate Bill 861, the COLA is determined using the monthly allowance, pension, or benefit a recipient is entitled to on July 1 of the year in which the increase is calculated. The proposed OAR 459-005-0510 clarifies that the resulting annual COLA is paid during the following 12 months in the recipient’s monthly allowance, pension, or benefit starting on August 1.
The bill includes an annual supplementary payment that begins in 2014 and sunsets on December 31, 2019. The annual supplementary payment is based on 0.25 percent of the benefit recipient’s yearly allowance, pension, or benefit, but capped at $150. An additional supplementary payment of 0.25 percent is paid to a benefit recipient whose yearly allowance, pension, or benefit is $20,000 or less.
Annual supplementary payments will be paid to retired members, beneficiaries, alternate payees, and judges who receive or are entitled to receive a retirement allowance, pension, or benefit on July 1. Alternate payees will receive a supplementary payment by operation of ORS 238.465(5), which requires that any increase in a member’s retirement allowance increases the amount paid to the alternate payee in the same proportion. Similar to the provisions applicable to the COLA, however, if the associated member is not receiving a supplementary payment because he or she has not yet retired, then the alternate payee will not receive a supplementary payment.
ORS 238.415 established the Retiree Health Insurance Premium Account (RHIPA) to pay a monthly subsidy toward the cost of healthcare coverage for eligible retired state employees who are not Medicare eligible. This subsidy is actuarially funded solely by state employers as part of their employer rates and applies only to members who retire from a state employer and who immediately apply for their retirement benefit.
To be eligible for the subsidy, the state employee (or their surviving spouse or dependent) must retire for service or disability and have 8 years or more of “qualifying service.” The monthly premium subsidy is calculated on a sliding scale that incrementally increases with years of “qualifying service” with a state employer. For Plan Year 2014, the RHIPA monthly premium subsidy will range from $163.39 (8 years of service) to $326.79 (30+ years of service).